In my article last month, I wrote about the values of working alongside your on-campus partners to support the academic mission of your institution. This month, I want to extol the value of working with off-campus partners who share our communities.
Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign (MWC) in Madison, New Jersey. MWC is a statewide community health initiative that gives mayors tools and strategies to champion healthy and active living and to improve the overall health of their communities. There may be something similar in your state or local community. If not, think about taking an inventory of the health and wellness professionals in your community and launch your own.
Our MWC is populated by health and wellness care practitioners in our community, such as chiropractors, fitness studios and social workers, among others. I joined the committee to integrate Drew’s activities and needs with Madison’s so we could maximize benefits and leverage resources.
Events we’ve run so far include: a healthy restaurant initiative which tasked Madison restaurants with providing a specific healthy option on their menu that we advertised; grocery store tours and a Paint the Town Yellow campaign; and a town-wide celebration in honor of International Day of Happiness, March 20th, and Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
One of our largest events I co-chaired the planning of was the Madison Fitness Crawl in early November 2017. Anyone familiar with a bar crawl will understand the basic format of a fitness crawl. Participants go from fitness studio to fitness studio, getting a brief sampling of each studio’s speciality.The classes ranged from yoga and pilates to bar and dance classes; you could choose to go to as many or as few as you’d like. If you were brave enough to complete a mini-class at all six studios, you received a large gift bag overflowing with goodies from local businesses, including our major sponsor, Whole Foods. Whole Foods was even nice enough to provide a table right next to our registration table full of fruits and water to keep our fitness enthusiasts fueled.
There were a dozen Drew students who braved the early November Sunday morning to hop from studio to studio and about another dozen Drew employees. In a follow-up meeting with the other event planners, I found out the fitness instructors were calling our Drew contingent the “Drew Crew.” Those who participated had an amazing time and immediately approached me afterwards asking when they can expect the next Fitness Crawl. Partnering with your community businesses is a great way to increase your prominence both on and off-campus and improve the town/grow relations with your surrounding community.